Egypt’s political crisis, explained in eight surprisingly entertaining minutes


A still from Hank Green's "Egypt...Explained!" video. (Youtube)

You could be forgiven a bit of confusion over Egypt’s political crisis. The situation there is so complicated and fluid that even many Egyptians disagree, for example, over whether they experienced a coup or a revolution last week.

Fortunately, the Youtube celebrities known as the “vlogbrothers” -- in real life, Hank and John Green -- have laid out the big-picture issues in a dizzyingly fast-paced, eight-minute video, with help from a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace researcher named Mokhtar Awad. It touches on the major factions vying for power, the problems with Egypt’s 2012 elections and the military’s many oddities. Fun fact: They control somewhere between five and 45 percent (!) of the Egyptian economy.

We’d quibble with Hank and Mokhtar on a few issues. For example, it's not crystal clear the military "just wants stability" so it can focus on its economic exploits; though the generals appeared uninterested in governing directly after they ushered out Hosni Mubarak, they still seem to see a role for themselves as a check on power. They soften the Brotherhood's history a bit, perhaps hoping to preempt American suspicion of the group, which has not always been quite as peaceful as they say but has in fact "toggled throughout its history between violence and peaceful opposition," as the Post's Abigail Hauslohner recently put it.

But overall, it’s a solid refresher on Egypt’s tumultuous past few years -- and, as it's peppered with phrases like "refrigerators and chickens and stuff, you don’t need a degree in international affairs to follow it. Green makes an interesting point toward the end when he says that social revolutions are typically incremental, often frustratingly slow, "because [societies] are composed of so many different people and people cannot all change their minds at the same time."

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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